1/2 medium-size bunch fresh cilantro, or to taste.
For the melons:
and honeydew, to make about 3 cups in all.
Pour the fish sauce or soy sauce into a 1-quart mixing bowl along
with the sugar. Either add the chopped Kaffir leaves or the lime zest;
pour in the lime juice, and stir the mixture to make sure the sugar dissolves
completely. Grind the dried shrimp to a powder in the chopper or blender,
add the peanuts to the chopper, and with several on-off pulses chop them
roughly. Peel the garlic cloves, mince them finely with a very sharp
knife, and stir into the dressing along with the chopped chile, dried
shrimp, and peanuts. Chop the cilantro leaves and part of the stems,
and stir half into the dressing; reserve the rest to garnish the finished
dish. Ahead of time: The dressing can be made 2 to 3 days in advance.
Refrigerate in a covered jar. (Chop fresh cilantro to garnish the salad
just before serving.)
Cut a slice off the top and stem end of a cantaloupe or honeydew,
and stand it on one end. Slice off the rind in strips, and continue shaving
off hard white or unripe parts, until you come to the tender ripe flesh.
Cut the melon in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and any strings. Cut
the melon into neat 3/4-inch horizontal slices, and cut the slices into
neat 3/4-inch dice. Reserve in a bowl. Continue with the next kind of
melon, reserving it in its own separate bowl. When you have diced the
watermelon, carefully poke out as many seeds as you easily can and reserve
the flesh in its own bowl. Cover all three bowls and chill.
To serve, whisk the dressing; if it is too thick, whisk in droplets
of lime juice to achieve pouring consistency. Toss each melon with a
spoonful of dressing (if desired), and arrange melons in rows on the
platter. Spoon the dressing over the melons and garnish with chopped
cilantro. Serve chilled.